Saturday, 08 November 2014 10:30

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, (krg.org) — The President of the Federal Republic of Iraq, Dr. Fuad Masum, received on Thursday Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, at his residence in Erbil.

They exchanged views regarding all the political and military issues of the country. The discussion particularly focused on the war against ISIS terrorist organisation in Iraq and the region and the importance of the international military and humanitarian support to Iraq. They also stressed the need for national reconciliation among all the parties, relying on the terms of the constitution and previous agreements.

The relations between Kurdistan Region and Iraq's federal government and the necessity of resolving the outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil according to the constitution, that could serve the interests of all the Iraqi people, were also discussed in the meeting.

Thursday, 07 August 2014 09:00

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq (KRG.org) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has issued a statement reassuring the people of Kurdistan that Peshmerga forces are advancing and will defeat the terrorists, and that the people should not panic.

The full text of the Prime Minister’s statement:

A message to the people of Kurdistan

We reassure the beloved and resilient people of Kurdistan that our Peshmerga are advancing on the Sinjar front and have defeated the terrorist forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Makhmour and Jalawla. The Kurdistan Regional Government, with its faith in Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces, promises the people of Kurdistan that it will not allow terrorists to defile the sacred land of Kurdistan nor hinder the continuation of life in Kurdistan.

We urge the people not to panic and to remain calm in their places and continue their normal work and life. We promise the people of Kurdistan to strike the terrorists with an iron fist. We will abolish the threat facing Kurdistan and the region. We must all have faith in the Peshmerga and support them.

We ask the people and the youth of Kurdistan to keep their spirits high. We should all believe in our legitimate cause. We are now defending the sacred land of Kurdistan against an invading terrorist force. That requires the highest morale, especially as the terrorists are suffering defeat due to pressure from Peshmerga forces. Therefore, we ask the people of Kurdistan to keep up their spirits and remain calm.

Nechirvan Barzani
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government
6 August 2014

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 09:00

London, United Kingdom (gov.UK) - Foreign Secretary William Hague and Prime Minister Nechirvan Idris Barzani discussed relations between the UK and the Kurdistan Region, Iraq’s recent elections, and human rights issues.

Speaking after the meeting the Foreign Secretary said:

"I was pleased to welcome Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Barzani to London today. The Prime Minister’s visit is a chance to celebrate the warm relations between the UK and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with links in areas as diverse as trade, education and culture, and to reaffirm the UK’s desire to remain the Region’s partner of choice on all of these issues."

"I congratulated the Prime Minister on the progress that has been made in the Kurdistan Region over recent years, and the relative stability and security that has been achieved despite the violence in other parts of Iraq, and in neighbouring Syria."

"We also discussed the recent elections in Iraq, and the next steps towards the formation of a new federal government. I encouraged the Prime Minister, and other Kurdish parties, to remain fully engaged in this process."

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 10 May 2014 18:00

 Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (KRG.org) – A European Union Delegation led by the Ambassador of the EU to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, and ambassadors of a number of EU countries visited Kurdistan to hold meetings with the President, the Prime Minister, and other officials, and to attend a Europe Day celebration hosted by the KRG. The delegation discussed a number of strategic issues related to Iraq and Kurdistan, as well as the possibility of opening a permanent European Union representation office in Erbil. The aim of the visit was for the delegation to gain an opportunity to better understand the situation and to gain firsthand information on Kurdistan.

Meeting with the President

Ambassador Hybaskova congratulated President Barzani for the successful parliamentary and provincial elections that were conducted last month and said that this meeting is a reaffirmation of the strategic relationship between the EU and Iraq.  She said, "The elections were truly competitive and democratic, and serve as a very good example for the Middle East,” adding that the EU wants to see a government that is inclusive and that represents all the people of Iraq. President Barzani discussed with members of the delegation prospects for the political process in Iraq and the future direction of the country. President Barzani thanked the EU delegation for the visit and for the endorsement of the electoral process. He said the EU can play an important role in strengthening the democratic process in the country.

“Your positive assessment of our elections gives us strength to continue along this path. Your support will help us address our shortcomings." He added, "The EU can play an important role in Iraq, based on the promotion of democracy, adherence to the Constitution, and genuine power-sharing in the country. I believe this election is the last opportunity for genuine power-sharing and the possibility of stability. If genuine partnership is not implemented in the new government, our people will go for a referendum on a confederation in Iraq.”

EU ambassadors and representatives also raised questions with President Barzani, including some relating to the recent elections, efforts to finalize Kurdistan's regional government, and the situation of Syrian refugees in Kurdistan. On behalf of the EU, Ms. Jana Hybaskova thanked the KRG for its support to the more than 240,000 Syrian refugees currently living in Kurdistan and acknowledged that this has created great strain on the KRG resources. For his part, President Barzani said that the KRG would continue to do what it can to support the Syrian refugees.

Meeting with the Prime Minister

The delegation also met with the KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. The Prime Minister welcomed the delegation and began by expressing his support for a permanent EU representation in Kurdistan to help strengthen relations between Kurdistan and the EU. The meeting was attended by the KRG Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmed, the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa and the Head of the KRG Department of Follow-Up and Coordination, Minister Qubad Talabani.

The visiting delegation explained that the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union will hold a meeting before the end of June to decide on the structure of the future relationship with Iraq. Ambassador Hybaskova highlighted the importance of this visit, as the findings would be sent to the capitals of the 28 EU member states. She added that this visit was evidence of the EU's commitment to Kurdistan and its support for the fundamental principles of democracy, constitutional law, and human rights.

The Prime Minister briefed the delegation on the current disputes with Baghdad, highlighting the problems related to this year’s budget as well as Baghdad's unexpected and unlawful decision to cut the disbursement of salaries of the KRG employees. Regarding the formation of the next government in Baghdad, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of genuine partnership and power sharing.

Prime Minister Barzani also noted the importance of unity and a common vision among the political parties of Kurdistan. Despite healthy and democratic differences of opinions that exist between Kurdish political parties internally, the Prime Minister stated that this will not have any effect on the Region's relations with Baghdad, as all Kurdish political parties are united on issues pertaining to the Kurdish people. He added, "With these elections, we see the last opportunity to correct the ways in which Iraq is governed."

Meeting with the Department of Foreign Relations

Prior to participating in the Europe Day reception hosted by the KRG, the EU delegation met separately with the Head of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa. In this meeting, the visiting Ambassador assured Minister Mustafa that the EU is now working on the establishment of a permanent representation in Kurdistan.  She explained that with several EU member states having established diplomatic representation in Erbil, an EU representation office in Erbil is essential to furthering KRG relations with the European community.

She also reaffirmed the continuous technical and humanitarian assistance of the EU and member states through ECHO, the humanitarian aid and civil protection department of the European Commission, and other NGO’s in support of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan. The EU has embarked on a long-term plan to assist these refugees and IDPs.

Minister Mustafa was pleased by the efforts of the EU in assisting refugees with basic needs, as the crisis has taken a toll on the KRG. In this regard, the Minister requested that the international community jointly finds a solution to the conflict in Syria. He then held an interactive question and answer session with the various diplomats to address in detail a wide array of issues related to Kurdistan and Iraq.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 09:00

Erbil, Kurdistan (KRG.org) - Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has signed an order tasking Prime Minister designate Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister designate Qubad Talabani to form the eighth Cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Prime Minister Barzani will continue in his role in the same capacity, while Minister Talabani will move from his current role as Head of the KRG Department of Coordination and Follow-up to Deputy Prime Minister.

According to Kurdistan's laws, the cabinet must be formed within 30 days of the issuance of the President's order. This decision signals the final step in the government formation process, and paves the way for an eighth cabinet coalition to include a number of political parties.

Thursday, 01 May 2014 18:00

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (KRG.org) – Elections for the Iraqi parliament and the provincial councils of Erbil, Slemani and Duhok went ahead peacefully and with a high turnout ‎in the Kurdistan Region.

According to initial estimates from various media outlets, 70% of eligible voters cast their ballot in Kirkuk, 73% cast their ballot in Duhok, 77% cast their ballot in Erbil and 73% cast their ballot in Slemani. Voting began at 7am and ended at 6pm and there was no curfew in the region and no security incidents were reported. Iraqi airspace was closed from 12 PM on 28 April until 6 PM today. Voting was conducted through the use of electronic cards.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has worked closely with the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq in the run-up to the election to ensure a free and fair vote in the Kurdistan Region. There were over 1250 local and over 280 international observers monitoring the elections in Kurdistan, including teams from the United Nations, many of the consulates based in Erbil, the Arab League, and foreign and domestic non-governmental organisations.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Millions of Iraqis courageously voted today and reaffirmed not just their commitment to democracy, but their determination to achieve a more secure and peaceful future. Iraqis from every ethnic and religious group, and from all 18 provinces, [voted] in an election critical to advancing the vision of a democratic, united, federal, and pluralistic Iraq as defined in the Iraqi constitution.”

Other governments also issued statements supporting the electoral turnout. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “Despite the serious challenges that Iraq faces, it is inspiring to see that millions of Iraqis have seized the opportunity to choose their new government and I pay tribute to their courage and commitment to the future of their country.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Iraq and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Nickolay Mladenov, said whilst visiting a polling station today that “Iraqis face tight security measures, yet are determined to vote in an election, crucial to democratic transition.”

Iraq’s federal elections will determine the composition of the federal parliament and eventually lead to the formation of the next Iraqi government. Kurdistan Region’s provincial elections will determine the governing councils of the Region’s governorates, which will be tasked with choosing governors for each province. IHEC will release official results for both the federal and provincial elections after the votes have been counted and registered complaints regarding the voting process have been investigated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 09 March 2014 04:30

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq – (KRG.org) – The South Korean Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Heyon Meyong Kim, arrived in the Kurdistan Region to pay farewell visits to KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and a number of senior KRG officials as his tenure in Iraq comes to an end. In addition to his meetings he also attended the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani Forum and the ceremony at Erbil Airport where the remains of 93 Barzanis who died during the Anfal campaign were returned to Kurdistan.

Prime Minister Barzani welcomed the Ambassador and expressed his appreciation on behalf of the government and people of Kurdistan towards the Republic of Korea for its assistance to the region throughout the past decade. The Zaytun Division, a contingent from the Korean Army, was deployed to Kurdistan from September 2004 until December 2008, contributing to reconstruction projects for the people of the Region. Prime Minister Barzani also pointed to the actions of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Kurdistan. Both Korean entities played a crucial role in establishing a strong foundation for mutual relations which continue to progress. The Prime Minister said, "We want to benefit from the successful experience of Korea, particularly in the fields of science and technology, education and human capacity development."

For his part, the Korean Ambassador praised the role of the KRG and political leadership in maintaining stability and security, a key factor in Kurdistan’s progress and prosperity. The Ambassador pointed out that during his two-year tenure as Ambassador to Iraq he has had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Kurdish people and the tragedies that they have experienced. Prior to his departure the Korean Ambassador attended a ceremony where the remains of 93 Barzanis who lost their lives during the Anfal campaign were returned to Kurdistan to be reburied in Barzan. The Ambassador stated how moved he had been at seeing the victims of the former regime’s genocidal crimes firsthand.

Later during the same day, the Korean Ambassador met with Minister Falah Mustafa at the Department of Foreign Relations along with the Assistant Head of the Department, Ms Siham Jabali. The two parties discussed the many similarities that the people of Kurdistan and Korea share. In discussing the tragic past, Minister Mustafa said, “We have come a long way but we are still facing many challenges and we can learn lessons from your experience and your history.” He went on to say that “the character of Kurdistan is based upon a culture of hope and optimism."

South Korea and Kurdistan have established robust channels for collaboration through cultural and educational exchange programs and the continuity of capacity building programs managed by KOICA in Kurdistan. Ambassador Meyong Kim informed Minister Mustafa of future programs initiated by the Korean Institute for Development Strategy (KDS), a Korean think-tank and consultancy specializing in international economic development, who plan to work with the KRG Ministry of Planning. 

Ambassador Kim will be returning to Seoul to resume work at the Korean Foreign Ministry in order to prepare for his next posting as the Consul General in Los Angeles in the near future.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 06 March 2014 03:30

Sulaimani, Kurdistan (KRG.org) – Text of the Speech of Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at the American University of Iraq's Sulaimani Forum:

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Distinguished guests good morning to you all and welcome.

 

I wish to welcome my esteemed brother Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, who has travelled from Turkey to Sulaimani to participate in this conference. On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the province of Sulaimani we warmly welcome him, as this is his first visit to Sulaimani.  I welcome all guests who have come to attend.

 

I wish to thank the American University of Sulaimani, the University President Dr. Dawn Dekle, and of course AUI-S Chancellor, Dr. Barham Salih for extending this invitation to me to deliver the keynote address.

 

When I read the title of this conference, entitled Navigating the Challenges of the Middle East, I considered my remarks for this event. I thought that I would try to raise several issues and questions that might be addressed in the coming panel discussions.

 

“Navigating the Challenges of the Middle East”

 

This title leaves us much room for discussion around several issues, for indeed the Middle East needs to reevaluate its past and, going forward, turn to a brand new chapter in the ongoing story of its historical life.

 

The challenges require a very special understanding of the situation in order to modernize the political and social structure so as to guarantee and safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East.

 

As the Kurdistan Region, still a part of Iraq, we are presented with two key questions:

 

Will that country of Iraq have a future as a stable, democratic and federal state?

 

Will the deterioration of this country’s security, economy and politics lead to the disintegration of this country that we have spent eleven years trying to rebuild and for which we have sacrificed?

 

We have seen dark times in Iraq before 2003, when we live under threat and were constantly terrorized. However, much of the progress in the recent past took place under the umbrella of American protection and with the assistance of American security forces.

 

Today, Iraq looks more and more like a failed state – large areas suffer from inadequate security, poor services, and lack of government facilities, deep and paralyzing political disputes exist among key groups, and there is a lack of national purpose in addressing future problems. As a result, the country is losing complete authority and has encouraged deep confrontation amongst the political forces. Unfortunately, the people are losing hope for a cohesive future due to the lack of strategic plans to resolve these issues.

 

Of course we Kurds have a special interest in this question for it will determine the future directions we shall take. As has been the case since the liberation of Iraq, we are committed to a democratic, federal, and pluralistic Iraqi state, which protects our rights and freedoms under a stable and meaningful constitution.

 

Since the beginning of the liberation of Iraq, we have publicly declared our position by words and actions. We are committed to a democratic, federal and pluralistic Iraq, in which constitutional rights and freedoms are protected. Commitment to the new Iraqi Constitution is a commitment to a peaceful political and social process, and recognition of the will of the people. We should not overlook the fact that over almost 4 in 5 Iraqi citizens voted and approved the Iraqi Constitution in 2005. The responsibility, therefore, is on all the political forces, neighbouring countries, as well as those who believe in democracy to support and uphold the Iraqi Constitution, and to ensure that this founding document is not used for political or individual gains.

 

I will not go into any great detail in this setting, at this moment, apart from saying that we are deeply concerned about the future of Iraq and about the nature of the relationship between Baghdad and our Region. We are partners in the new Iraq and in the Federal Government, but unfortunately we are pessimistic about the attitude of the Federal Government in Baghdad regarding the Constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region. Throughout the past decade, year by year our differences have grown and direct threats have only served to further push us apart and do not help to find concrete and suitable solutions in the Constitutional framework of our country.

 

Like all other sides, we are a part of this country. We have made a lot of sacrifices and will continue to do so to establish security in Iraq, promoting political reconciliation and economic development for the sake of stability. We will continue to seek solutions through dialogue and discussion.

 

We have a constitutional right to use the national resources of this Region, and we have made it clear that we will neither regress nor relinquish our rights. What we are after, then, is mutual understanding and to work jointly as stipulated by the Constitution, and not individual judgments or centralised rule – an era which has ended. This is the basis of our relationship with the government in Baghdad and with all stakeholders and parties in Iraq.

 

We will reiterate that the relationship between the Kurdistan Region and other sides must not come at the expense of either party, and it will not be part of the contention. However, we will work towards stability and mutual understanding, as well as for the protection of our people.

 

We are genuinely concerned that in Baghdad today the livelihood of the people of Kurdistan is being used as a pressure card against the residents of the Kurdistan Region. We are quite concerned that a single individual can decide to withhold the livelihoods of the people of Kurdistan as a pressure card against the people of the Kurdistan Region. This is not acceptable under any circumstances to the people of the Kurdistan Region.

 

What we feared would happen in Iraq has occurred: we feared that one day the will and actions of one individual will be geared against the Kurdistan Region and the its people’s livelihoods. Our public servants are part of the Iraqi public service corps. In accordance with the Iraqi Constitution and law, these public servants are entitled to their salaries. However, a single individual has decided that he has the right to withhold their salaries. This was our fear in Iraq, and now we have witnessed it. Therefore, the Kurdistan Region is determined to never go back to the past again.

After the liberation of Iraq many countries and outsiders attempted to implement their agenda in Iraq. However, we have genuinely worked to protect the dignity of this country. We want to have friendly ties with our neighbouring countries, but we will not be part of any conflicts and our ties will not be at the expense of others. We have our own agenda, which is to simply protect our interests and serve our people under the framework of a democratic and pluralistic Iraq.

 

In this context, we attach great importance to the creation of stability in the greater region. For that reason, we have worked with determination to establish better ties with neighbouring countries based on mutual understanding and mutual benefits, just as we conduct our ties with all other countries.

 

Based on this vision, the Kurdistan Regional Government welcomes the initial agreement of the P5 + 1 group with Iran. We believe this is an important factor for the safety and stability of the greater region. The Kurdistan Regional Government believes it is important that as a neighbour the Islamic Republic of Iran returns to the international community. As a neighbor we believe that this will be an importance factor ensuring the stability and development of the Middle East.

 

Furthermore, the development of our relationship with the Republic of Turkey is in the interest of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as this benefits stability and mutual understanding.

 

My second question is equally daunting: What are the consequences of long-term violence and instability in Syria, a conflict which shows no signs at all of ending any time soon?

 

The preceding, final decades of the 20th Century were extremely bleak with a pervasive sense of dejection felt among the people due in no small part to political challenges and military coup d’états, regional revolutions, the clash of ideologies and propaganda, empty symbolism, gestures and mottos and Cold Wars, which still exist in the Middle East. In the face of the current situation and the ideological confrontations that exist in the greater region, we are determined to work to protect ourselves and to protect the interests of the Kurdistan Region.

 

The civil war in Syria has overwhelmed all the neighboring countries with refugee flows that are not sustainable for any period of time.  The lack of an inclusive political solution to resolve this situation is a key factor behind the deteriorating confrontation and extremism, which has a negative impact not only on the greater region but also on the international community. This fragmentation of the Syrian opposition and the interference of world powers have damaged the situation.

 

In Lebanon, nearly one in four people is a Syrian refugee due to this unbearable situation. Jordan is cracking under the strain of tens of thousands of refugees. Even here in the Kurdistan Region we are struggling to maintain adequate conditions for over 250,000 refugees. The Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to assist the refugees and establish adequate living conditions.

 

Further, the violence has attracted hundreds – if not thousands – of Al Qaeda fighters back, and they are now infiltrating Iraq and capturing areas from which they were forced out by the American surge nearly seven years ago.

 

The peace process which has begun in Geneva is not enough. Those nations with influence in Syria must use their power to bring this humanitarian tragedy and security nightmare to an end before the entire region is dragged into chaos and crises.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Today in the Kurdistan Region, we are tasked with forming the new cabinet. We are in dialogue with all the political parties to exchange thoughts and ideas. We will work towards establishing a broad based government that is representative of the election results. This process needs time, but we have made progress. We want to ensure that the next four years deliver continued peace and stability in the Kurdistan Region, and that all sides are part of its development and governance. Furthermore, we want to work together to further develop the democratic process in the Region, and this encourages us to continue our dialogue with all other political parties to achieve an outcome that is in the interest of our people.

 

The society of the Kurdistan Region and the political leadership as a whole senses and strongly recognises the changes that are taking place in the greater region, and we continue to cautiously deal with these changes and future obstacles in a way that protects the interests of our people.

 

My third area of interest regards two of our strongest neighbors. Turkey and Iran are each playing a greater role in the future of the Middle East. Some see potential for cooperation between them, others see competition developing. This is aside from the impact of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. My question is: What are the respective goals and interests of Turkey and Iran, and can they help to play a positive, tension-reducing role in the Middle East?

 

While many of us see this as an encouraging sign, there are concerns that this desire for greater influence could turn into a competitive, de-stabilizing process with each side seeking to add areas of economic and political influence at the expense of the other.

 

Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the role and impact of outsiders on ideological, religious and sectarian tensions.

 

And my last question as one of the people living in the Middle East is: What is the level of American influence? What is level of American interests in the Kurdistan Region, and what type of leadership and support can we expect from the United States?

 

We have gone from the hyper-interests of the Bush Administration, which sought to remake the Middle East in its own image, to the policies of the Obama Administration, which almost seem to reject the notion that the US has any strategic influence at all in the Middle East.

 

Will new oil and gas technologies, which are likely to make the US even less dependent on Middle Eastern energy, lead to an even more comprehensive US withdrawal from the Middle East?

 

What is the future US-European policy towards the Middle East? What is their impacts can we expect on this area?

 

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends,

 

These are just some of the issues that we as leaders in the Middle East need to consider and for which we must prepare.  There is no doubt that other issues will be raised and discussed here this week. I am sure this conference will be successful because a number of scholars, researchers, political analysts, government representatives, and journalists inside and outside Kurdistan are present.

 

I wish to thank the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani and the IRIS center for organizing this conference and for gathering all of us here for these roundtable discussions.

 

I wish you the best in your work and in your analysis, and I look forward to hearing more from IRIS about the conclusions.

 

Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

 

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